Agri-Environment Schemes

Agri-Environment Schemes

Environmental Land Management Schemes

The environmentally-focused agricultural schemes are changing, three new Agri-Environment schemes have now been introduced to incentivise farmers for environmental measures.

The three new Agri-Environment Schemes are:

  • Sustainable Farming Incentive
  • Local Nature Recovery schemes 
  • Landscape Recovery scheme

These schemes are designed to support farmers improve the environment, sustainability of farming, farm productivity and profitability. In addition to achieving the outlined 25 Year Environmental Plan target: Protection of 30% of land in the UK by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050.

Farmers can enter the Agri-Environment Schemes and be paid for meeting outlined targets including:

  • Clean and plentiful water 
  • Clean air 
  • Thriving plants and wildlife 
  • Reduction in and protection from environmental hazards 
  • Adaptation to and mitigation of climate change 
  • Beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment.

Sustainable Farming Incentive

The Sustainable Farming Incentive was developed with the support and advice of farmers and the wider agricultural industry. To date, 3,000 farmers and land managers have been involved in the process of the tests and trials of the Agri-Environment scheme.

In March 2021 the 3-year pilot for the Sustainable Farming Incentive was launched. Farmers were involved with assisting with planning a scheme that was viable and supported farmers. With the aim of achieving the environmental, climate change and biodiversity targets for the agricultural sector.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive will be launched in 2022, initially, it will be open to Basic Payment Scheme 2021 (BPS) recipients only, but by 2024 as the scheme expands it will be open for application to all farmers.

The scheme’s aim is to financially incentivise land management activities that are environmentally sustainable. Environmental beneficial activities will be organised into groups to make it simple for farmers to identify suitable options for their land.

Local Nature Recovery

The Local Nature Recovery scheme is open to farmers and land managers and financially remunerates for actions that support local nature recovery and complete activities to support local environmental priorities.

Local Nature Recovery agreements will be open for application from 2024, following a pilot beginning in 2022.

Landscape Recovery

The Landscape Recovery scheme will involve bespoke agreements to

support long-term, land-use change projects, including rewilding where


We will begin some pilot Landscape Recovery projects between 2022

and 2024, and then make the full scheme available from 2024.

Countryside Stewardship Scheme

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme one of the original Agri-Environment Schemes is being improved by fairer and more proportionate inspections and simplifying the process of the scheme. Until 2024 the scheme will remain available for both existing and new applications, with the final new applications accepted in 2023.

If you entered into a Countryside Stewardship agreement after Jan 2021 and secure an environmental land management scheme place, you will be entitled to transfer to the new scheme, after withdrawing the original agreement at an agreed exit point with no penalty points.

From 2024 all-new Countryside Stewardship Scheme agreements will be managed by the new environmental land management schemes.

Options for scheme applicants in regards to wood pasture restoration, especially for uplands candidates are still in consideration by Natural England, Defra and RPA.

Another priority of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme is air quality, so applications from priority designated areas for a reduction of air pollution can apply to plant trees covering a minimum of 0.1ha. This meets the standard minimum area of tree planting for water quality.

Catchment Sensitive Farming 

For farmers with a farm holding considered to be in a High Water Quality, Priority Area may be entitled to advice from Catchment Sensitive Farming or a capital grant from the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. The aim of the scheme includes advice for farmers and a grant for the required equipment advised to improve water quality in areas of high priority for water quality improvement measures.

The Catchment Sensitive Farming Scheme will continue to be available throughout 2021.

Farmers in Protected Landscapes

The Protected Landscapes bodies are providing farmers with funding from 2021, this will be particularly to support upland farmers of which 75% of farms are considered to be Protected Landscapes.

The scheme is to support farmers to improve the natural environment of areas classed as protected landscapes, in line with the Environmental Plan target: 

Protection of 30% of land in the UK by 2030.

Other priorities under this scheme are the requirement to improve cultural heritage and areas of public access on their land. 

The Protected Landscapes scheme provides funding for:

  • Diversification projects at farm level to improve revenue and resilience and in preparation for the environmental land management schemes.
  • More extensive infrastructure and project funding for farmland enabling improvements in farms and rural economies.

Read more on Farming in Protected Landscapes

Prosperity and Productivity

Resilience support for the farming community

To help support the farming community with the changes in farming and support land managers and farmers alike, to plan for the phasing out of the Basic Payment scheme. The Prosperity and Productivity scheme offers both business advice and support services, to plan for the next four years as the Basic Payments are reduced year on year through the phase-out until stopping in 2024.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s Farm and Rural Support Directory list local support groups.

Subsections of priority included in the Prosperity and Productivity scheme include:

  • Trade and Agriculture Commission (Government advise ensuring Uk farmers remain competitive)
  • Innovation, research and development
  • Farming Investment Fund
  • Slurry Investment

Agri-Environment Schemes Regulation and enforcement

The strategy around regulation and enforcement of the Agri-Environment schemes has been reviewed and will be improved and simplified to support farmers, the changes will start in 2021 and continue through until 2024.

In 2024 when payments are delinked, cross-compliance will no longer be the main factor of inspection and enforcement of basic farm requirement regulations.

A new approach will be in consultation throughout 2021. A close working partnership with farmers throughout the process will ensure that the new approach will be more workable for farmers with a more viable and effective approach.

There will continue to be reviews and improvements were highlighted in other areas of existing regulation and enforcement areas.

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